October 2004
Hunt in Zimbabwe for two of the Big Five!

(Translated from Spanish)

At the end of August 2004 I went out to South Africa on a Big 5 hunt accompanied by 6 friends, Raul Lanzotti, Roberto Lanzotti, Ruben Delgreco, Ruben Sternari and our ammunitions expert, Rodolfo Delpino who had reloaded all of our hunting rounds in various calibres and with which we had very good results in the past. The whole group, except myself, remained in South Africa where they hunted a large range of Antelope species. On the morning of the 5th September my great friend, South African , Lambert van Staden and myself departed from Johannesburg International Airport and headed to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. After clearing customs and immigration and paying all the necessary duties, we boarded a 4 seater charter plane and flew 1 1/4 hours north to the confluence of the three borders between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique.

We landed at the hunting camp's bush strip and prepared ourselves for hunting of the Big Five during the next 15 days. Lambert had already organised the permits for Sable, Buffalo and the most crafty master of the big five (in my opinion), the Leopard.

The first day we checked out the camp surrounds and our very comfortable accommodation consisting of canvas tents sheltered beneath thatch roofing to keep cool. All the tents had mosquito nets which were a live saver because without them we probably would not have survived. I never imagined to find so many many mosquitos, bothersome sand flies and the so called tsetse fly which packs a sting and from dusk to dawn you need to be on the lookout for. We found out before the trip that this area was endemic to malaria and polio and so we took all the necessary vaccinations and precautions against this.

On the second day we hunted for a zebra to use as bait for the leopard. On the third day I hunted a very nice Sable antelope from which the meat was also used to continue setting up 7 different bait sites where we had come across leopard spoor. This took the whole day as the concession is some 300 000 hectares in extent. The concession is bordered by the Anwa River in the West and the Mozambique border in the North. The Hunyuni River divides the concession into two and is a tributary of the Zambesi River 35km to the North.

At 05h30 the next morning we loaded up the Jeep and went to examine the baits. Three had been eaten the previous night. The trackers showed me that the first had been eaten by a female and her cub, the second by a lone male that had eaten little and moved off, obviously distrusting something. Furthermore there was not a suitable area to set up a hide. The third bait had been eaten by both a female and a medium to large male and we decided that this would be a suitable site to set up a hide and shooting platform to wait for the cats that night.

As it was in the middle of the day and the temperature was a scorching 36 degrees (night time is still a warm 20 degrees), we decided to find some shade, take on some food and refreshments and catch a quick 1 hour siesta.
After our break the trackers begun building a hide and platform using poles with a roof covering of leaves and branches. The hide was finished at 4pm and our PH recommended that we keep making any noise speaking and to a minimum because the leopards normally start patroling their area at this time. My PH, Lambert and I climbed into the hide whilst the three trackers moved away from the area in the Jeep. The bait was approximately 40m from the hide and at around 6pm the sun set and the hyena's began calling.

We remained in the hide in anticipation and communicated with hand signals. At 9:30pm Lambert saw movement at the bait in the semi-darkness and we listened very carefully. After a couple of minutes, my possible prey could be heard clearly eating. The wind was in our favour and Lambert indicated that I should get ready as he was going to light up the bait. Once switched on, there was a prime male at the bait and Lambert ordered "shoot".

At this point everything happened in such a hurry that it is difficult to describe. The cat was broadside to me, I placed the bead on his shoulder and pulled the trigger. I briefly lost sight of the shot from my .375H & H and when I lined up again I could see my prize leopard hanging over the fork of the tree. My PH slapped my back and said "Well done". I was at a loss for words - I did not know whether to shout or run around in joy. Lambert said to me that was a good leopard hunt and for the next 40 minutes we laughed and talked, took photographs and video. We loaded the trophy and took 1 1/2 hours to return to camp where we had a huge party with wine and beer until dawn the next day.

Two days later I hunted a very good buffalo which is my second to date. I have already two of the big 5 and I am determined to return next year and hunt for one of the remaining 3.

During the 15 days at this concession I saw many different species of animals including elephant, crocodile, hippo, zebra, kudu, baboon, bush-pig, warthog as well as a large variety of birds.

In conclusion I would like to say I am very grateful to my wife and son who take care of our family business in order that I can pursue my passion for hunting.

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